We’re too close to an election to hold another impeachment hearing, and I doubt the American public has the stomach for it, anyway, but the picture of Trump emerging around the story of Russian bounties on American soldiers is one of a staggeringly incompetent human being who security officials and senior advisors actually believe is a literal danger to the United States. From CNN:
In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.
“The President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States”? You don’t say. Not only did the President leverage aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Joe Biden, not only did he make promises to dictators at the expense of the United States, but it looks increasingly likely that Trump did so with Putin even as the Russian President had bounties out on the heads of American soldiers.
According to the NYTimes this morning, Trump was indeed briefed that a Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. One such possible incident in April 2019 resulted in the deaths of three Marines in a car bombing in Afghanistan.
The father of one of the U.S. Marines killed, told the @AP: “If this was kind of swept under the carpet as to not make it a bigger issue with Russia, and one ounce of blood was spilled when they knew this, I lost all respect for this administration .." https://t.co/NkxrleNHcg— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) June 30, 2020
The intelligence on the bounties was included in a February 27th daily briefing; moreover, the intelligence was “serious and solid” enough that it was disseminated on May 4th more broadly across the entire intelligence community. But why didn’t Trump know? Here’s Fox News’ defense of the President:
Ainsley Earhardt says if Trump wasn't briefed on the Russian bounties then he didn't know about them, but if he was briefed then he could act. After Steve Doocy says it was in a daily briefing, Ainsley replies "he doesn't — all president's don't read all of their briefings." pic.twitter.com/BQNUr1ZuWw— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) June 30, 2020
That’s the excuse the NSA is offering, too, while also trying to shift blame for this to the people who leaked the intelligence:
So the new official position of the @WHNSC is that they did indeed know, and let the President continue to offer benefits to Putin without warning him he was in league with someone who was paying for American deaths?— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) June 30, 2020
Really, that's your position? https://t.co/YTgya9TFW2
So, basically, Trump’s excuse is to plead ignorance? Senator Tammy Duckworth — a possible VP choice — had a few words for Trump on that front, too:
"He's had time to call Joe Biden names, however….not once in the past 72 hours has he found time to express outrage that American service members are dead," Duckworth says. "Not responding here is a response in its own way."— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) June 29, 2020
Duckworth accuses Trump of making it "more likely that more spouses will be widowed and more moms and dads turned into gold star parents."— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) June 29, 2020
"How dare he still call himself the commander in chief?"